celebrating milestone birthdays

Etiquette and Advice from the Emily Post Institute

Celebrating Milestone Birthdays
Whether you?re celebrating the quarter-century mark or any of the decade markers, milestone birthdays are a great reason to celebrate. Here?s some advice for celebrating with style and grace:

Gag Gifts
While you might think that a package of denture cream is the perfect gift for your sister?s 60th, she may feel otherwise. Humor is good, humiliation is not. Keep the gag gifts above board. How about a toast or a poem that recalls the funniest things she?s ever done or said? Or a picture collage of you and her through the years.

Gift Phobia
When in doubt about what gift to give or if you really don?t know what the person would like, stick with the classics. It?s hard to go wrong with flowers, chocolate or wine. These items are, with few exceptions, universally enjoyed and appreciated.

No Gift?
No worries. When celebrating birthdays with adults, gifts are not mandatory. Some people will want to bring a gift and it is fine to do so. It?s a nice gesture to bring a card, wishing the person well for the coming year.

Surprise!

Q. My husband says he doesn?t want me to throw him a 30th birthday party ? but I want to! All our friends throw birthday parties for their spouses.

A. Respect your husband?s wishes. The last thing any of us want to do is make someone we love feel uncomfortable and that?s what throwing an unwanted party would do. Maybe he would be very happy to go out to dinner with your closest friends or go golfing with his buddies and you could all meet up informally afterward. Or maybe what he?s really looking for is a quiet evening with you. Give him what he wants on his special day.

Here?s to You!
Birthday toasts have plenty of room for humor, as long as you?re sure your digs about being ?over the hill? won?t be taken seriously. Here?s one that works in almost any situation:

?To you on your birthday, glass held high,Glad it's you that's older - not I.?

Who Picks Up the Birthday Tab?

Q. I want to invite a few other couples to celebrate my wife?s 45th birthday with us at her favorite restaurant. How do I invite others but let them know that they?ll have to pay for their own meal?

A. It?s all in how you phrase it. Call your friends or relatives and say, `` John, would you and Ellen like to meet us at Jackson?s Place on Saturday night? We?re asking Michelle and Eric too. It?s Dawn?s birthday and I thought it would be fun for the six of us to have a night out together. Just let me know if you can come and I?ll make the reservation.? By posing your request this way, it?s clear that you?re just the social coordinator and not the host, so everyone should understand that they?re paying for their own meal. However, if you had said, ``We?re hosting a dinner at Jackson?s Place,?? or sent a written invitation with that wording, your guests would be right to assume that dinner is on you.


About the
Emily Post Institute
The Emily Post Institute, created by Emily in 1946 and run today by third generation family members, serves as a "civility barometer" for American society and continues Emily's work. That work has grown to address the societal concerns of the 21st century including business etiquette, raising polite children and civility in America.
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